Sūra Maryam (Arabic: سورة مریم) is the nineteenth sura of the Qur'an. It is a Makki sura located in the sixtieth verse of the Qur'an. The sura is called "Maryam" because it narrates the story of Lady Maryam (a) or Mary. The main message of the sura consists in good tidings and warnings to people in terms of stories of prophets, including Zechariah (a), John the Baptist (a), Abraham (a), Moses (a), and Jesus (a).
One well-known verse of the sura is the verse ninety six known as Wudd Verse (or the Verse of Affection). To persist on reciting Sura Maryam makes one needless of life, property, and children.
The sura is called "Maryam" because it talks about the life story of Maryam (a) in verses sixteen-twenty seven and thirty four. It is also called "kaf-ha-ya-'ayn-sad" because it opens with these disjoined letters. It also known more shortly as "kaf-ha."
- Place and Order of Revelation
Sura Maryam is a Makki sura of the Qur'an. In the order of revelation, it is the forty forth sura revealed to the Prophet (s). In the present order of compilation, it is the ninteenth sura located in the sixtieth juz' of the Qur'an.
- Number of Verses and Other Features
Sura Maryam has ninety eight verses, 972 words, and 3935 letters. With regard to size, it is one of the Mathani suras of the Qur'an, occupying less than one half of a juz' of the Qur'an. Sura Maryam is one of the twenty nine suras opening with disjoined letters.
Sura Maryam is characterized by two features: first, when narrating the stories of great prophets and Maryam (a), it uses the word, "udhkur" (remember), and second, the word, "Rahman" (the Most Compassionate) as a divine attribute occurs sixteen times in the sura, so as to imply the expanded mercy or compassion of God for all entities and creatures, particularly prophets and believers.
In Tafsir-i nimuna, the content of Sura Maryam is summarized in the following three sections:
- The most important part of the sura includes the stories of Zechariah (a), Maryam (a), the Christ (a), John (a), Abraham (a) and his son Ishmael (a), Idris (a), and some other prophets;
- Issues of resurrection, the quality of resurrection, and the fate sinners and the reward of the pious, and the like;
- Sermons and advice complimenting the preceding sections;
- Some remarks about the Qur'an, the denial of God having children, and the issue of intercession, which collectively constitute an effective pedagogical program that leads humans to faith, purity, and piety.
Historical Stories and Narrations
Sura Maryam contains a number of historical stories and narrations about prophets and Maryam (a).
- The story of Zechariah (a) and the miraculous birth of John (a)
- The story of Maryam (a) and the birth of Jesus (a), and his talk to people when he was in the cradle
- The conversation between Abraham (a) and Azar, and Abraham's request of forgiveness for Azar, the birth of Isaac (a) and Jacob (a)
- A call to Moses (a) from Mount Sinai, and the prophethood of Aaron (a)
- The messengership of Ishmael (a)
- The messengership of Idris (a)
- Stories of Abraham (a) and Moses (a)
Occasions of Revelations of Some Verses
There are reports of occasions of revelations of some verses of Sura Maryam.
The Descent of the Angel of Revelation at the Command of God (64)
About the occasion of revelation of verse sixty four of Sura Maryam "[O Gabriel, tell the Prophet,] ‘We do not descend except by the command of your Lord..." it is said that when the Prophet of Islam (s) was asked about the story of Companions of the Cave (or Seven Sleepers), Dhu l-Qarnayn, and Ruh (the Spirit), Gabriel did not appear to him for a while, and this made the Prophet (s) very anxious, because he did not know how to answer the questions. After a while the Angel of Revelation appeared to the Prophet (s). The Prophet (s) asked him about the reason why he was late in delivering the revelation to him, and Gabriel answered that "I am more enthusiastic about seeing you, but I can only come to you when God commissions me to do so."
Revival of the Dead (66-67)
Verses 66-67 of Sura Maryam "Man says, ‘What? Shall I be brought forth alive [from the grave], when I have been dead?...’" were revealed about Ubayy b. Khalaf al-Jumahi. He held a decayed bone in his hand and crumbled it while saying that "Muhammad claims that we will be resurrected after death when were crumbled like this bone. This is certainly not possible." The verse was revealed in answer to his objection, emphasizing on the revival of the dead, as God has created everything originally when there was nothing.
Promise of Repaying the Debt on the Day of Resurrection (77-80)
Abu Ishaq al-Tha'alibi transmitted a hadith with a chain of transmitters in between from Khabbab b. al-Aratt who said, "'As b. Wa'il owned me some money. I asked him to repay his debt to me, but he told me that he would not repay unless I denied Muhammad. I told him that I would not deny Muhammad until he died and then came back to life. He told me that you say that we will come back to life after death and there are gold, silver, and silk in the Heaven. Thus, he asked me to allow him sometime until he repaid my debt in the Heaven, because if the Heaven exists, then he claimed that he would have a greater share of the Heaven than I do." Verses 77-80 of Sura Maryam were revealed in answer to what 'As b. Wa'il said.
The Meaning of Kaf-Ha-Ya-'Ayn-Sad
Two types of hadiths are cited concerning the meaning of the disjoined letters with which Sura Maryam opens (that is, kaf-ha-ya-'ayn-sad):
- Hadiths in which each letter is taken to refer to a great name of God: "kaf" refers to Kafi (sufficient), "ha" refers to Hadi (guide), "ya" refers to Wali (guardian), "'ayn" refers to 'Alim (omniscient), and "sad" refers to Sadiq al-Wa'id (He Who is truthful in His promises).
- Hadiths in which the disjoined letters are interpreted as referring to the Event of Karbala: "kaf" refers to Karbala, "ha" refers to "halaka" (destruction or murder) of the family of the Prophet, "ya" refers to Yazid, "'ayn" refers to "'atash" (thirst), and "sad" refers to "sabr" (resistance and patience) of Imam al-Husayn (a) and his companions.
'Allama Tabataba'i rejects the former group of hadiths as invalid, because they interpret "ya" as referring to Wali, whereas "Wali" does not begin with "ya." Some Sunni scholars take the disjoined letters with which Sura Maryam opens to be a divine attribute.
|— Qur'an 19:96|
The verse ninety six of Sura Maryam is known as Wudd Verse (or the Verse of Affection). Scholars and exegetes believe that it was revealed about Imam 'Ali (a), citing many hadiths to the same effect. According to a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a), the Prophet (s) prayed for Imam 'Ali (a) and asked God to put his affection and love in the hearts of believers, and his fear and awe in the hearts of hypocrites. After his prayer, this verse was revealed.
Merits and Benefits
Imam al-Sadiq (a) is quoted as saying that: "he who persists on reciting Sura Maryam will not die unless God makes him needless of life, property, and children with the blessings of this sura."
- Ṣafawī, "Sura-yi maryam," p. 808.
- Khurramshāhī, "Sura-yi maryam," p. 1242.
- Khurramshāhī, "Sura-yi maryam," p. 1242.
- Maʿrifat, Āmūzish-i ʿulūm Qurʾān, vol. 2, p. 166.
- Khurramshāhī, "Sura-yi maryam," p. 1242.
- Ṣafawī, "Sura-yi maryam," p. 809
- Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 16, p. 6.
- Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 13, p. 3.
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- Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 13, p. 6-7.
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- Qummī, Tafsīr al-qummī, vol. 2, p. 56; ʿAyyāshī, Tafsīr al-ʿAyyāshī, vol. 2, p. 142.
- Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 3, p. 4.
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